California police find no motive for school shooting

California police find no motive for school shooting By Steve Gorman SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (Reuters) - A 16-year-old student was carrying out a deliberate plan when he shot five teenagers at his California high school then turned the gun on himself, the local sheriff said on Friday, but authorities have no clues about what sparked the bloodshed. "We did not find any manifesto, any diary that spelled it out," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a briefing. The gunman, whose identity has not been made public, survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound but was in grave condition in a hospital, Villanueva said. Two of the other five students who were shot in the Thursday morning attack died of their wounds. Detectives worked through the night to follow up on tips related to the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles (65 km) north of Los Angeles. The shooting, which was caught on video, unfolded in 16 seconds, police said. Arriving at school on his 16th birthday, the suspect pulled a .45 semi-automatic pistol from his backpack in an outdoor courtyard, stood in one place and shot his victims in rapid succession before turning the gun and firing the last bullet into his head. Villanueva said authorities did not know the origin of the gun used, nor how the shooter got his hands on it. All Hart District schools in Santa Clarita were closed on Friday, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's office said on Twitter, out of respect for the victims and their families. Two girls aged 14 and 15 were being treated at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California and were listed in good and fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said early on Friday. At the Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita, authorities said a 14-year-old boy was treated and released. Two other students who had been taken there died. A hospital spokesman could not immediately be reached on Friday. Villanueva identified one of the students killed as Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15. He said the families of the other student killed and those wounded did not authorize him to release their names. The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other mass shootings at U.S. schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault rifle killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018. It was the 85th incident of gunfire at a school this year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. (Reporting by Steve Gorman and Alan Devall in Santa Clarita; Additional reporting by Maria Caspani, Gabriella Borter and Barbara Goldberg in New York City, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas, Dan Whitcomb in Culver City and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Dan Whitcomb and additional reporting and writing by Rich McKay; Editing by Frances Kerry and Bill Berkrot)

California police find no motive for school shooting
By Steve Gorman

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (Reuters) – A 16-year-old student was carrying out a deliberate plan when he shot five teenagers at his California high school then turned the gun on himself, the local sheriff said on Friday, but authorities have no clues about what sparked the bloodshed.

“We did not find any manifesto, any diary that spelled it out,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a briefing.

The gunman, whose identity has not been made public, survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound but was in grave condition in a hospital, Villanueva said. Two of the other five students who were shot in the Thursday morning attack died of their wounds.

Detectives worked through the night to follow up on tips related to the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles (65 km) north of Los Angeles. The shooting, which was caught on video, unfolded in 16 seconds, police said.

Arriving at school on his 16th birthday, the suspect pulled a .45 semi-automatic pistol from his backpack in an outdoor courtyard, stood in one place and shot his victims in rapid succession before turning the gun and firing the last bullet into his head.

Villanueva said authorities did not know the origin of the gun used, nor how the shooter got his hands on it.

All Hart District schools in Santa Clarita were closed on Friday, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s office said on Twitter, out of respect for the victims and their families.

Two girls aged 14 and 15 were being treated at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California and were listed in good and fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said early on Friday.

At the Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita, authorities said a 14-year-old boy was treated and released. Two other students who had been taken there died. A hospital spokesman could not immediately be reached on Friday.

Villanueva identified one of the students killed as Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15. He said the families of the other student killed and those wounded did not authorize him to release their names.

The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other mass shootings at U.S. schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault rifle killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

It was the 85th incident of gunfire at a school this year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Alan Devall in Santa Clarita; Additional reporting by Maria Caspani, Gabriella Borter and Barbara Goldberg in New York City, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas, Dan Whitcomb in Culver City and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Dan Whitcomb and additional reporting and writing by Rich McKay; Editing by Frances Kerry and Bill Berkrot)

Police look for motive behind California school shooting, two dead

L.A. County Sheriff's Department (LASD) Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) members are pictured after a search following a shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, U.S., November 14, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. LASD SEB via REUTERS

Police look for motive behind California school shooting
By Steve Gorman

SANTA CLARITA (Reuters) – Police investigating a high school shooting in California said on Friday they still did not know what motivated the suspect, who killed two classmates and wounded three others before shooting himself in the head and collapsing.

Thursday morning’s shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles (65 km) north of Los Angeles, took place in a matter of just seconds. The suspect pulled a .45 semi-automatic pistol from his backpack in an outdoor school courtyard and opened fire.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said on Friday that why was the question of the day.

“This kind of came out of the blue,” the sheriff told CNN. “It shocked everyone who knew him.”

Police have not released the name of the suspect, but have said it was his 16th birthday on Thursday. Authorities said he was in grave condition at a hospital.

“He saved the last round for himself,” Villanueva said.

Investigators are looking into the suspect’s past and social media accounts and interviewing people who knew him, the sheriff added.

“We’re still digging,” he said.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation and police do not know yet where the suspect got the weapon, the sheriff said.

Two girls aged 14 and 15 were being treated at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California and were listed in good and fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said early on Friday.

At the Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita, authorities said a 14-year-old boy was treated and released, and the other students taken there died.

No names of the wounded or the dead were released yet, but the two slain students were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.

Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said surveillance video footage showed the suspect opening fire from a single stationary position and shooting his victims in rapid succession before turning the gun on himself.

The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other mass shootings at U.S. schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

It was the 85th incident of gunfire at a school this year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group.

Police said the suspect had acted alone. Investigators descended on his family home, blocking off the street. They found no further danger there.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Alan Devall in Santa Clarita; Additional reporting by Maria Caspani, Gabriella Borter and Barbara Goldberg in New York City, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas, Dan Whitcomb in Culver City and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Dan Whitcomb and additional reporting and writing by Rich McKay; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Texas school shooter ‘nonemotional,’ lawyer says as motive sought

Christian Cardenas 10, helps Jaydon Johnson 8, light a candle during a vigil for the victims of a shooting at Santa Fe High School that left several dead and injured in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Pu Ying Huang

By Erwin Seba

SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) – The 17-year-old student charged with killing 10 people when he opened fire in an art class at his Houston-area high school appeared “weirdly nonemotional” on the morning after the rampage, one of his lawyers said on Saturday.

The teenager, identified by law enforcement as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been charged with capital murder and is being held without bail in Santa Fe, Texas, where authorities said he went on a shooting spree shortly before 8 a.m. CDT on Friday.

In addition to 10 fatalities, the gunman wounded at least 13 people, with two of them in critical condition. One of those in critical condition was one of the two school resource officers who engaged the shooter before his surrender.

For graphic on the timeline of major mass shootings in the United States since 2007 click https://tmsnrt.rs/2LfKug6

Nicholas Poehl, one of two lawyers hired by the suspect’s parents to represent him, told Reuters he had spent a total of one hour with Pagourtzis on Friday night and Saturday morning.

“He’s very emotional and weirdly nonemotional,” the attorney said when asked to describe his client’s state of mind. “There are aspects of it he understands and there are aspects he doesn’t understand.”

As the shooting unfolded, Pagourtzis spared people he liked so he could have his side of the story told, a charging document showed.

While authorities have given no indication why he apparently targeted the art class, a mother of one of the victims told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter, Shana Fisher, 16, had rejected four months of aggressive advances from Pagourtzis.

Fisher finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, the newspaper quoted her mother Sadie Rodriguez as writing in a private message to the Times.

“A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn’t like,” she said. “Shana being the first one.”

Rodriguez did not say how she knew her daughter was the first victim, according to the newspaper.

Rodriguez could not independently be reached for comment.

FAMILY OF SHOOTER SPEAKS

Pagourtzis’ family said in a statement they were “saddened and dismayed” by the shooting and “as shocked as anyone else” by the events. They said they are cooperating with authorities.

“While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of (Friday’s) tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love,” the family said.

Investigators had seen a photo of a T-shirt that read “Born to Kill” on the suspect’s Facebook page and authorities were examining his journal, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters, but there were no outward signs he had been planning an attack.

Pagourtzis waived his right to remain silent and made a statement to authorities admitting to the shooting, according to an affidavit ahead of his arrest.

Asked if Pagourtzis had provided authorities with information about the shootings, Poehl said: “Honestly because of his emotional state, I don’t have a lot on that.”

Candles line a table during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger

Candles line a table during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger

STUDENTS RETRIEVE BELONGINGS

Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, became the scene of the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school in modern history, joining a long list of campuses where students and faculty have fallen victim to gunfire.

The Texas rampage again stoked the country’s long-running debate over gun ownership, three months after a student-led gun control movement emerged from a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 teens and educators dead.

Students and faculty, bussed on to campus in small groups, were allowed to enter the high school on Saturday to retrieve belongings, though investigators closed off part of the grounds. Police kept reporters about 100 yards (91 meters) away.

All schools in the Santa Fe school district will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday, officials said.

In a letter to parents dated Friday but posted on the district’s website on Saturday, Superintendent Leigh Wall said eight of the dead were students and two were teachers. Authorities had earlier said that nine students and one teacher were killed.

National Football League star J.J. Watt, who plays defensive end for the Houston Texans, said he will pay for the funerals of the deceased, local media reported.

“Absolutely horrific,” he tweeted about the shooting.

Aziz Shaikh (L), father of Sabika Aziz Sheikh, a Pakistani exchange student, who was killed with others when a gunman attacked Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., comforts a relative in Karachi, Pakistan May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Aziz Shaikh (L), father of Sabika Aziz Sheikh, a Pakistani exchange student, who was killed with others when a gunman attacked Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., comforts a relative in Karachi, Pakistan May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

‘QUIET LONER’ IN A TRENCH COAT

Classmates at the school of some 1,460 students described Pagourtzis as a quiet loner who played on the football team. On Friday, they said he wore a trench coat to school on a day when temperatures topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

Texas’ governor told reporters that Pagourtzis obtained firearms from his father, who had likely acquired them legally, and also left behind explosive devices.

Abbott said Pagourtzis wanted to commit suicide, citing the suspect’s journals, but did not have the courage to do so.

Some aspects of the shooting had echoes of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. The two teenaged killers in that incident wore trench coats, used shotguns and planted improvised explosives, killing 10 before committing suicide themselves.

It was the second mass shooting in Texas in less than seven months. A man armed with an assault rifle shot dead 26 people during Sunday prayers at a rural church last November.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Writing by Frank McGurty; editing by Daniel Wallis, Matthew Lewis and G Crosse)

Texas bombing suspect blows himself up as police close in

FILE PHOTO: Law enforcement personnel investigate an incident that they said involved an incendiary device in the 9800 block of Brodie Lane in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 20, 2018.REUTERS/Loren Elliott

By Jon Herskovitz

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (Reuters) – An unemployed 23-year-old man suspected of a three-week bombing campaign in Texas that killed two people and injured five others before blowing himself up on the side of a highway was identified by local media on Wednesday.

The suspect was identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, of Pflugerville, Texas, according to the local CBS television affiliate and Austin American-Statesman newspaper, citing unnamed law enforcement sources. Reuters could not immediately confirm the suspect’s identity.

Public records showed Conditt’s age as 23. Officials had said the suspect was 24.

Police tracked the suspect to a hotel about 20 miles north of Austin, the state capital, and were following his vehicle when he pulled to the side of the road and detonated a device, killing himself, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters near the scene.

“The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle,” Manley told reporters. He declined to further identify the suspect, except to say he was white.

Investigators had tracked him for a couple of days before closing in at an unidentified hotel in Round Rock, Texas, not for from his home in Pflugerville, Governor Greg Abbott told Fox News on Wednesday.

“We’ve known for a couple of days who the suspect likely was,” Abbott said. “Law enforcement is at his house in Pflugerville where we are learning whether or not that was the location he was making his bombs.”

The governor added that the suspect is believed to have lived with two roommates, who are not currently considered suspects, Abbott said. The suspect was not a military veteran, Abbott said.

Texas law enforcement officials blocked off the street where the suspect lived, not far from where the first bomb went off on March 2, killing one person.

Jay Schulze, a 42-year-old network engineer, said on Wednesday he lived a few houses away from the bombing suspect and that the suspect and his friends would hang out late at night.

“They would be out in back playing music and partying pretty late,” Schulze said.

While jogging on Tuesday night, Schulze noticed a heavy police presence in the area, with drones flying overhead. He said he was stopped briefly by a person who he thought was an FBI agent.

‘DO NOT UNDERSTAND’ MOTIVATION

Manley said the suspect was believed to be responsible for six bombs around Austin, all but one of which detonated. He said the motivation for the bombings or whether the suspect had help was not yet known.

Manley warned residents to be cautious since it was not clear whether any more bombs had been left around the city.

The bombings killed two people and injured at least five others, unnerving residents of Austin, a city of some 1 million people. The first bombings occurred as the city was hosting the annual South By Southwest music, film and technology festival.

While officers waited for reinforcements before they arrested him, the suspect left the hotel and police followed.

The suspect pulled off the city’s main highway and two Austin police officers approached his vehicle when he set off the device. One officer fired at the vehicle and the other sustained a minor injury when the bomb went off, Manley said.

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated authorities on Twitter: “Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”

The first three devices were parcel bombs dropped off in front of homes in the Austin area. A fourth went off on Sunday night, apparently detonated with a trip wire also around Austin, and a fifth exploded inside a FedEx Corp <FDX.N> facility near San Antonio on Tuesday.

The bombings bewildered authorities, who by Sunday had publicly called on the bomber to contact them and explain why he was carrying out the attacks.

The first two bombs killed black men, raising fears that they were part of a hate crime, but investigators said the blasts that came later and were more random made that less likely.

Manley said investigators have no clear idea of what prompted the suspect to carry out the bombing, saying, “We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Jonathan Allen and Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Larry King and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Malaysian prosecutors to call final witnesses in Kim Jong Nam murder trial

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia January 22, 2018.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian prosecutors in the trial of two women accused of the poison murder of the North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother will call their final witnesses in coming weeks as the defence zeroes in on the motive behind the sensational killing.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese, are charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison banned by the United Nations, at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 last year.

The women have pleaded not guilty, saying they thought they were involved in some sort of prank for a reality TV show. Four North Koreans who were also charged in the killing have fled the country, prosecutors say.

The two women face the death penalty if convicted.

A total of 29 witnesses have testified for the prosecution in the trial, which resumed Monday after a two-month interval.

Another four witnesses are expected to testify this week, before police lead investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, the prosecution’s star witness, retakes the stand, prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad told the court on Monday.

“We hope to complete questioning of all witnesses by March,” he told reporters outside the court, adding that hearings have been scheduled until May.

The court suspended Wan Azirul’s testimony last year, following requests from defence lawyers to examine new evidence introduced midway through the trial.

Prosecutors have screened video recordings in court showing the women meeting the four fugitives at the airport prior to the attack on Kim Jong Nam. The video also shows one of the women appearing to smear something on Kim’s face.

Expert witnesses also testified that traces of VX were found on the clothing of both women, while Kim Jong Nam suffered seizures and showed symptoms of nerve agent poisoning before his death.

Defence lawyers have argued the killing was politically motivated, with many key suspects linked to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, suggesting the two women were merely unwitting pawns in the attack.

Gooi Soon Seng, Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, accused prosecutors of taking “a simplistic approach” to the case by failing to address the women’s motives.

“The prosecution’s whole case is based only on the CCTV recordings and the VX found on the two women – basically showing that their actions led to the victim’s death.

“But we still don’t know what motive these women had (for killing him),” he told reporters during a break in Monday’s hearing.

Airport videos showed three of the fugitives were driven to the murder site in a car bought by a North Korean embassy official.

The embassy’s second secretary and an official from Air Koryo, North Korea’s state airline, were also seen at the airport helping the men flee.

North Korea has denied accusations by South Korean and U.S. officials that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime was behind the killing.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; editing by Praveen Menon and Nick Macfie)

Parents charged after 13 siblings found starved, chained in California

A van sits parked on the driveway of the home of David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin in Perris, California, U.S. January 15, 2018.

By Phoenix Tso and Mike Blake

PERRIS, Calif. (Reuters) – The 13 California siblings who police say were starved and chained to beds by their parents rarely left their disheveled house and, when they did, they appeared small and pale and acted strangely, neighbors said.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were arrested on Sunday and each charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment after a 17-year-old, emaciated girl escaped their house in Perris, about 70 miles (115 km) east of Los Angeles and called police, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday.

Police said in a statement that they found several of the couple’s 13 children, ranging in age from 2 to 29, “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings”.

“The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty,” it said.

Kimberly Milligan, 50, who lives across the street from the family, told Reuters that she only saw the infant in the mother’s arms and three other children since she moved in across the street two years ago, describing them as small and pale.

“Why don’t we ever see the kids?” Milligan said. “In hindsight, we would have never thought this, but there were red flags. You never don’t hear or see nine kids.”

Two years ago, while walking around the neighborhood admiring Christmas lights and decorations, Milligan said she encountered three of the Turpin children and complimented them on the manger with a baby Jesus that they had outside their home. She said the children froze if by doing so they could become invisible.

“20-year-olds never act like that,” she said. “They didn’t want to have a social conversation.”

Nicole Gooding, 35, who has lived in the neighborhood for three years, said that the first time she saw the family was two months ago when the mother and children cleaning up yard that was full of weeds and overflowing trash cans.

“I had never seen them at all until that day,” she said.

The parents, who are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, are being held on $9 million bail, police said.

The police statement did not detail the parents’ motive for holding the children and a police spokesman said he had no further details.

Six of the couple’s children are minors, while the other seven are over 18, parents said.

A Facebook page that appeared to have been created by the parents showed the couple dressed in wedding clothes, surrounded by 10 female children in matching purple plaid dresses and three male children in suits.

David Turpin’s parents, James and Betty Turpin of West Virginia, told ABC News they are “surprised and shocked” by the allegations against their son and daughter-in-law, saying they can’t understand “any of this”.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Police, FBI seek public’s help in finding motive behind Las Vegas massacre

Police, FBI seek public's help in finding motive behind Las Vegas massacre

By Sharon Bernstein

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Police and FBI agents, chasing down more than 1,000 dead-end leads since a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas, are seeking more help from the public in solving the central mystery of their investigation – the shooter’s motive.

Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said investigators remain largely in the dark about what drove retired real estate investor and high-stakes gambler Stephen Paddock to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“We have looked at everything, literally, to include the suspect’s personal life, any political affiliation, his social behaviors, economic situation, any potential radicalization,” McMahill told reporters late on Friday.

“We have been down each and every single one of these paths, trying to determine why, to determine who else may have known of these plans.”

McMahill acknowledged that Islamic State had repeatedly claimed responsibility for the attack, but said investigators had uncovered “no nexus” between the Mideast-based militant group and Paddock.

In an unusual bid to cast a wider net for tips, the FBI and police have arranged with communications company Clear Channel to post billboards around Las Vegas urging citizens to come forward with any information they believe might help investigators.

The billboards will bear the slogan, “If you know something, say something,” and carry a toll-free number to an FBI hotline, said Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office.

The public appeal came a day before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was slated to join Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other local leaders at a City Hall commemoration for victims of the shooting, following a prayer walk through the city. President Donald Trump paid a visit to Las Vegas earlier in the week.

Paddock, 64, unleashed a torrent of gunfire onto an outdoor music festival from the windows of his 32nd-floor hotel suite overlooking the concert on Sunday night, then shot himself to death before police stormed his room.

In addition to the 58 people who died, nearly 500 were injured, some by gunfire, some trampled or otherwise hurt while running for cover.

Unlike so many other perpetrators of deadly mass shootings before him, Paddock left behind no suicide note, no manifesto, no recordings and no messages on social media pointing to his intent, according to police.

McMahill said investigators remained certain Paddock acted alone in the shooting. But police have said they suspect he had help before the killings, based on the large number of guns, ammunition and explosives found in the hotel suite, his home, his car and a second home searched in Reno.

Authorities have said that 12 of the weapons recovered from Paddock’s hotel suite were equipped with so-called bump-stock devices that enable semi-automatic rifles to be operated as if they were fully automatic machine-guns.

Paddock’s ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute over the course of his 10-minute shooting spree was a major factor in the high casualty count, police said.

The bloodshed might have lasted longer, with greater loss of life, but for a hotel security officer who was sent to check an open-door alarm on the 32nd floor, and discovered the gunman’s whereabouts after the shooting started, McMahill said.

The security officer, Jesus Campos, was struck in the leg as the gunman strafed the hallway with gunfire from behind his door, apparently having detected Campos via surveillance cameras Paddock set up outside his hotel suite.

Campos, though wounded, alerted the hotel’s dispatch, “which was absolutely critical to us knowing the location as well as advising the responding officers as they arrived on that 32nd floor,” McMahill said. “He’s an absolute hero.”

In a new disclosure, authorities said two bullets Paddock fired struck a large jet fuel storage tank at the edge of the city’s main airport, about a block from the concert grounds, indicating an apparent attempt by the gunman to create even greater havoc.

There was no explosion or fire from the two rounds, one of which penetrated the tank, as jet fuel in storage is almost impossible to ignite with gunshots, airport officials said on Friday.

Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62, was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said in a statement she never had any inkling of Paddock’s plans.

Danley, who returned late on Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines, is regarded by investigators as a “person of interest.” The Australian citizen of Filipino heritage is cooperating fully with authorities, her lawyer said.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage and Sharon Bernstein in Las Vegas; additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Richard Cowan, Doina Chiacu, Amanda Becker and Jeff Mason in Washington, Chris Kenning in Chicago, Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Allen in New York, Keith Coffman in Denver and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone and Steve Gorman; Editing by Andrew Hay/Jeremy Gaunt)

Las Vegas police look for motive in deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history

Las Vegas police look for motive in deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history

By Alexandria Sage and Lisa Girion

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Police sought clues on Tuesday to explain why a retiree who enjoyed gambling but had no criminal record set up a vantage point in a high-rise Las Vegas hotel and poured gunfire onto a concert below, slaying dozens of people before killing himself.

The Sunday night shooting spree from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel, on the Las Vegas Strip, killed at least 59 people before the gunman turned a weapon on himself. More than 500 people were injured, some trampled, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, left no immediate hint of his motive for the arsenal of high-powered weaponry he amassed, including 42 guns, or the carnage he inflicted on a crowd of 22,000 attending an outdoor country music festival.

Paddock was not known to have served in the military, to have suffered from a history of mental illness or to have registered any inkling of social disaffection, political discontent or radical views on social media.

“He was a sick man, a demented man,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters. “Lot of problems, I guess, and we’re looking into him very, very seriously, but we’re dealing with a very, very sick individual”

He declined to answer a question about whether he considered the attack an act of domestic terrorism.

U.S. officials also discounted a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State militant group.

Police said they believed Paddock acted alone.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters on Monday. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.”

Although police said they had no other suspects, Lombardo said investigators wanted to talk with Paddock’s girlfriend and live-in companion, Marilou Danley, who he said was traveling abroad, possibly in Tokyo.

Lombardo also said detectives were “aware of other individuals” who were involved in the sale of weapons Paddock acquired.

The closest Paddock appeared to have ever come to a brush with the law was for a traffic infraction, authorities said.

As with previous mass shootings that have rocked the United States, the massacre in Las Vegas stirred the ongoing debate about gun ownership, which is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, and about how much that right should be subject to controls.

Democrats reiterated what is generally the party’s stance, that legislative action is needed to reduce mass shootings. Republicans argue that restrictions on lawful gun ownership cannot deter criminal behavior.

“We’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” Trump said.

Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

ITINERANT EXISTENCE

The death toll, which officials said could rise, surpassed last year’s record massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by a gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Paddock seemed atypical of the overtly troubled, angry young men who experts said have come to embody the profile of most mass shooters.

Public records on Paddock point to an itinerant existence across the U.S. West and Southeast, including stints as an apartment manager and aerospace industry worker. But Paddock appeared to be settling in to a quiet life when he bought a home in a Nevada retirement community a few years ago, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas and the casinos he enjoyed.

His brother, Eric, described Stephen Paddock as financially well-off and an enthusiast of video poker games and cruises.

“We’re bewildered, and our condolences go out to the victims,” Eric Paddock said in a telephone interview from Orlando, Florida. “We have no idea in the world.”

Las Vegas’s casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw more than 40 million visitors from around the world each year. The Strip was packed with visitors when the shooting started shortly after 10 p.m. local time on Sunday during the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

The gunfire erupted as country music star Jason Aldean was performing. He ran off stage as the shooting progressed.

Video of the attack showed throngs of people screaming in horror and cowering on the open ground as extended bursts of gunfire strafed the crowd from above, from a distance police estimated at more than 500 yards (460 meters).

The bloodshed ended after police swarming the hotel closed in on the gunman, who shot and wounded a hotel security officer through the door of his two-room suite and then killed himself before police entered, authorities said.

Police said 23 guns were found in Paddock’s suite.

Lombardo said a search of the suspect’s car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer compound that can be formed into explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building that killed 168 people.

Police found another 19 firearms, some explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at Paddock’s home in Mesquite, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Las Vegas.

They also obtained a warrant to search a second house connected to Paddock in Reno, Nevada.

Chris Sullivan, the owner of the Guns & Guitars shop in Mesquite, issued a statement confirming that Paddock was a customer who cleared “all necessary background checks and procedures,” and said his business was cooperating with investigators.

“He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time,” Sullivan said. He did not say how many or the kinds of weapons Paddock purchased there.

Lombardo said investigators knew that a gun dealer had come forward to say that he had sold weapons to the suspect, but it was not clear if he was referring to Sullivan. He said police were aware of “some other individuals who were engaged in those transactions,” including at least one in Arizona.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Frank McGurty in New York, Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason in Washington, Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Ali Abdelaty in Cairo and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Steve Gorman and Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Tait and Frances Kerry)